Dave Dagnall (1946-2020)
David Dagnall, a former deputy headmaster who taught in Bermuda for 19 years and was known for his ebullience in sporting circles, has died in England after a brief illness. He was 73.
Born in Appleby, Westmoreland, he came to the island in 1972 to teach mathematics at Northlands in Pembroke, where he later became deputy principal and also served as acting principal.
Miranda Pedro, a former pupil at what was then a secondary school, described Mr Dagnall as “an awesome teacher who always supported and encouraged the students to do their best”.
Away from the classroom, Mr Dagnall's larger-than-life character came to the fore. In addition to playing cricket for Commercial League side Forties, and cricket and rugby for Mariners, he was a runner — he completed the New York Marathon in 1988 — a football referee and also enjoyed mountain trekking.
Gary Edwards, a former Forties team-mate, described Mr Dagnall, a left-arm opening bowler, as a “great team man with wonderful humour — a standout character”.
Gerald Simons, who also played for Forties, said Mr Dagnall was a “real gentleman”.
He added: “He was a good cricketer. I called him the left-arm Freddie Trueman. He was serious about his game, but he had fun.
“I liked keeping wicket to him, as he swung the ball big. Everybody got along at Forties; it was family.”
Clive Cotton, another former team-mate, said: “I do recall that Dave was the first bowler I faced when I was ‘on trial' for Forties in a net at the old Nationals in 1986. I remember thinking he looked pretty ferocious as he ran in and he was quite a nippy bowler.
“I soon found out that his slightly fierce looks belied his open and friendly nature, and that he was one of the stalwarts in the Forties set-up on and off the field.”
Rex Osborne, a contemporary member of the Bermuda Referees Association, said: “You could always rely on Dave to show up at referees' meetings and also on the field to officiate for the games.
“We had some great times at many of the venues. He was well-liked and respected by many of his fellow colleagues, and would often enjoy talking about the game afterwards ... sometimes with a beverage in hand! Dave was great with the social functions.”
After he returned to England in 1991, Mr Dagnall continued to teach mathematics, run and referee football matches until the onset of Parkinson's disease slowed him down, but he continued to follow the fortunes of his favourite football team, Carlisle United.
He even named his Norfolk home Brunton Park after the Sky Bet League Two side.
Mr Cotton added: “When we were both back in England in the 1990s, and I was living in London, he'd often come down when Carlisle were playing and drag me off to various places such as Fulham and Leyton Orient. We'd always have a good night out afterwards.
“The last time I saw him was when [my side] Exeter City played Carlisle in a League Two play-off semi in 2017. He came down for the second leg at St James's Park. He'd got tickets for the Carlisle section, as they were easier to come by. I had to sit on my hands as City scored a late winner and ‘Daggers' was good enough not to expose me as a City supporter.”
Mr Dagnall's wife, Maureen, who also taught in Bermuda, said: “Dave was extremely well-liked and put his heart into everything he did. His death was a massive shock to all who knew him.
“Dave enjoyed life to the full, but unfortunately Parkinson's took hold in 2013. A lot of activities revolved around supporting his beloved football club Carlisle United. When mobility prevented him from travelling to games, he still listened to coverage on the radio.”
She added: “After hanging up his whistle, Dave made visits to Nepal, enjoying the Himalayas with one of our sons and friends, as well as hiking in Switzerland and Wales.”
He also completed the El Camino de Santiago, one of the oldest Christian pilgrimage routes in the world that is held across Spain and other parts of Europe, she said.
In addition to his wife, Mr Dagnall is also survived by their two sons, John and Rob.